Winfield subdivision sanitary system dispute nears end

2012-12-23T20:35:00Z 2012-12-23T21:04:37Z Winfield subdivision sanitary system dispute nears endLU ANN FRANKLIN Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
December 23, 2012 8:35 pm  • 

WINFIELD | The nearly yearlong saga of the malfunctioning sanitary sewer lift station shared by Deer Creek Estates and Wyndance subdivisions and the moratorium on building and occupancy permits in both subdivisions is nearing an end.

Last week, the Town Council voted 5-0 to sign a three-party agreement that will give Winfield ownership of the Deer Creek sewer lift station that serves all homes in both subdivisions. It’s an agreement that’s been under negotiation since April.

Dave Van Dyke, owner of Precision Homes Inc. of Highland, is another party to the agreement. He developed Wyndance and Deer Creek Estates as Deer Creek Investors LLC and Deer Creek Development LLC.

The third party to the agreement Ken Thieneman, who with his wife, Shannon, also developed Wyndance and built homes in the subdivision as Thieneman Homes Inc.

Thieneman Construction, a Merrillville-based company Ken Thieneman owns, did the sewer work in the Wyndance subdivision. He is former president of the Winfield Town Council and former president of the Winfield Sewer Board.

In March, the Town Council unanimously voted to cease issuance of both building and occupancy permits in the two subdivisions. That’s because the sanitary sewer system and sewage lift station privately owned and operated by Van Dyke weren’t built according to the plans submitted to the town. According to the agreement, the facilities "were not in accordance with the plans for the sanitary sewer facilities," it states.

Before the moratorium, the villa homes in Wyndance built by Thieneman were listed as starting at more than $180,000. Single-family homes started at more than $260,000. Homes in Deer Creek Estates ranged from $280,000 to more than $800,000.

The agreement hammered out by lawyers for all parties calls for Van Dyke to transfer all ownership and title to the lift station and sanitary sewer facilities as well as easements.

In return, Winfield will pay Van Dyke $62,000 for transferring ownership. The transfer price will be paid from the Wyndance performance bonds that were previously called by the town. The funds from those bonds also will be used to bring the lift station up to code.

In addition, the moratorium on building and occupancy permits will be lifted as part of the agreement.

Emergency measures have been needed to prevent raw sewage from entering Deer Creek and making its way into Lake Michigan if the lift station failed. However, the repairs couldn’t be done until the town owned the facility.

On Dec. 3, the Winfield Sewer Board approved those emergency repairs, which can be done when the transfer of ownership is completed.

At that meeting, Town Councilman Don Samburg told the Sewer Board that the Deer Creek sanitary lift station has only one functioning pump and no backup generator.

Samburg has taken responsibility for analyzing the town’s entire sanitary sewer system.

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